Despite her injuries — and maybe because of the settlement — the woman and her attorney praised the Kitsap County deputy who sent her tumbling face-first down a flight of stairs.
A Bremerton woman who received a $50,000 settlement from Kitsap County for injuries she suffered during an arrest has a few choice words for the sheriff’s deputy who used a Taser on her and sent her tumbling face-first down a flight of stairs, according to her attorney.
Surprisingly, they’re words of praise.
Mary Arlene Gomez suffered serious facial injuries in the 2013 incident, and sued the county over allegations of use of excessive force and improper medical care for her injuries while she was housed in the Kitsap County Jail. The county settled the excessive-force claim in U.S. District Court this past week.
Her lawyer, Stan Glisson, of Port Orchard, said the treatment-related claims are still pending.
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Gomez, 41, had appeared in Kitsap County Superior Court on Dec. 11, 2013, on a theft charge, according to the lawsuit and other court documents. The judge set bail, and when Gomez indicated she would not be able to post it, the judge ordered her taken into custody and called for bailiffs.
Gomez, according to the lawsuit, fled the courtroom, running past a pair of corrections officers who were coming to arrest her.
“They chased her on foot through the courthouse/county building to a descending staircase” where Corrections Officer Michael Turso drew his Taser and fired its darts into her back as she ran down the stairs, sending 50,000 volts surging through her body, the suit said.
“The Taser effectively incapacitated Ms. Gomez … causing her to lose control of her body,” according to a lawsuit filed last year in U.S. District in Tacoma. “Carried by momentum and gravity, she then skidded face-first down many concrete textured steps before coming to rest near the bottom of the staircase.”
Gomez, according to the lawsuit, suffered “multiple painful injuries, including broken bones, lacerations and abrasions, and emotional distress.” She was taken to the hospital and later booked into the Kitsap County Jail.
She underwent surgery while in jail, and her doctors prescribed post-surgical treatments the lawsuit alleges the jail failed to perform.
“As a result, her injuries did not heal properly and she still has extensive physical and emotional pain and suffering today,” the lawsuit said.
The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, which defended the county on the excessive-force allegations, agreed to settle Gomez’s claims against Turso and the use of the Taser for $50,000, according to federal court filings. Glisson said the treatment claims remain unresolved and are being defended by an outside law firm, according to the docket and court filings.
Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Ione George said in an email that the settlement was made “to compensate Ms. Gomez for the injuries she suffered” and is not an admission of liability. Turso acted while protecting the public, George said.
Glisson issued a statement this week praising the county for its efforts to fairly resolve the claim.
Likewise, he said Gomez has “nothing but respect” for the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office — and the deputy who Tased her.
“The officer in this case is particularly well regarded by his peers, and Ms. Gomez and I both think very highly of him personally and professionally as a corrections officer,” Glisson said.